So much for Aaron Murray’s reputation as a quarterback who can’t win the big game.
The senior took care of that with one of the best performances of his career.
Murray threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns, Georgia’s beleaguered defense finally came up with a stop, and the 11th-ranked Bulldogs defeated No. 6 South Carolina, 41-30, on Saturday in Athens for an early edge in the Southeastern Conference’s East Division.
Coming off a 38-35 loss at Clemson, Georgia could not afford another defeat if it wanted to remain a serious contender for a national title.
Murray capped his stellar day for the Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0) by slipping away from South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney and connecting with Justin Scott-Wesley on an 85-yard touchdown pass with 13 minutes remaining.
‘‘It was a lot of fun,’’ said Murray, who came in 1-6 against Top-10 opponents. ‘‘It’s definitely up there.’’
The defense made sure it stood up, stuffing Mike Davis on fourth and goal from inside the 1 to preserve an 11-point lead. Murray and the offense took it from there, running off the remaining 8:28.
Davis led the Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1) with 149 yards rushing. Connor Shaw passed for 228 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 75 yards, but also lost a crucial fumble in the third quarter in Georgia territory.
That said, this loss was on Clowney and the defense.
They simply couldn’t stop Murray. Clowney, who had a lackluster opening game, was largely shut down again, held to only three tackles and one sack.
Georgia snapped a three-year losing streak against the Gamecocks, seizing control of the SEC East, though South Carolina still has a chance to get back in the race, thanks to a more favorable schedule.
Todd Gurley had another huge day for the Bulldogs on the ground, rushing for 136 yards on 30 bruising carries and scoring two touchdowns.
His first came on a 2-yard run in a wild first half, which ended with the teams tied at 24. Then, in the final seconds of the third quarter, he hauled in an 8-yard TD pass from Murray to give Georgia a 34-24 lead.
Davis ended the third with a 75-yard run, and scored on a 3-yard run early in the fourth to make it 34-30.
With Georgia facing third and 13 from its 15, Murray scrambled away from Clowney and found Scott-Wesley all alone behind the secondary for the TD that helped seal it.
Ohio State 42, San Diego State 7 — Kenny Guiton took over when Braxton Miller left with a sprained left knee, running for one touchdown and passing for two while leading the No. 3 Buckeyes (2-0) over the visiting Aztecs (0-2).
Miller watched the last three quarters from the sideline after being sandwiched between two tacklers on the Buckeyes’ seventh offensive play. Guiton, who helped save Ohio State’s 12-0 season a year ago, had the most playing time he’s ever had in a game. He set career bests with 19-of-28 passing for 152 yards and 83 rushing yards.
Afterward, coach Urban Meyer said Miller’s injury didn’t appear serious and that he may return next week against Cal.
Texas A&M 65, Sam Houston State 28 — Johnny Manziel threw for 426 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score in less than three quarters to push the No. 7 Aggies (2-0) past the visiting Bearkats (1-1).
Louisville 44, Eastern Kentucky 7 — Teddy Bridgewater threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns, and the No. 8 Cardinals (2-0) routed the visiting Colonels (1-1).
LSU 56, UAB 17 — Zach Mettenberger threw a school-record five TD passes — three to Odell Beckham Jr., who also returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a score — and the No. 9 Tigers (2-0) blasted the visiting Blazers (0-2).
Oklahoma State 56, UT-San Antonio 35 — J.W. Walsh completed his first 10 passes and finished 24 of 27 for 326 yards and four touchdowns as the No. 13 Cowboys (2-0) beat the overmatched Roadrunners (1-1) in San Antonio.
BYU 40, Texas 21 — Taysom Hill ran for 259 yards and three touchdowns and also passed for 129 yards and Jammaal Williams added 182 rushing yards as the host Cougars (1-1) stunned the 15th-ranked Longhorns (1-1) in Provo, Utah.
Oklahoma 16, West Virginia 7 —Brennan Clay had a career-high 170 yards rushing and the No. 16 Sooners (2-0, 1-0 Big 12) scored the game’s final 16 points to get past the visiting Mountaineers (1-1, 0-1). Freshman quarterback Trevor Knight threw a go-ahead TD pass in the second quarter but was pulled after tossing a pair of third-quarter interceptions.
Wisconsin 48, Tennessee Tech 0 — Melvin Gordon ran for 140 yards and a TD, and the No. 21 Badgers (2-0) got their second straight shutout in a rout of the visiting Golden Eagles (1-1) of the FCS.
Nebraska 56, Southern Miss 13 — Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Ciante Evans returned first-quarter interceptions for touchdowns and the No. 22 Cornhuskers made quick work of the visiting Golden Eagles (0-2). Taylor Martinez threw three touchdowns passes and Ameer Abdullah ran for two scores for Nebraska (2-0).
Baylor 70, Buffalo 13 — Bryce Petty threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns, Lache Seastrunk ran for 150 yards with three scores, and the first-team offense had 576 total yards in only 11 minutes with the ball as the 23d-ranked Bears (2-0) blasted the visiting Bulls (0-2).
TCU 38, SE Louisiana 17 — Trevone Boykin led three straight scoring drives after starter Casey Pachall left with an injury to his non-throwing arm, and the No. 24 Horned Frogs (1-1) pulled away from the visiting Lions (1-1). Afterward, the school announced Pachall had undergone surgery and will miss multiple games.